tv Washington Week With Gwen Ifill PBS February 28, 2014 7:30pm-8:01pm PST
gwen: the ground is shifting in ukraine on gay rights and congress and in society. we explore it all tonight on "washington week." >> any violation of ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply disabling which would not be in the interest of ukraine, russia or europe. >> we believe that everybody needs to step back and avoid any provocation. >> the secretary of state means russia. as tensions escalate in ukraine. the standoff is looking more . ld war
arizona looks at the debates whether one group can violate the other's. in washington, congressional brain drain after one serving member after another opts out. >> i have found great disappointment in this country. gwen: and at the white house, the president reaches out to the private sector to address public ill. >> i see myself in these young men. and the only difference is that i grew up in an environment that is a little bit more forgiving. gwen: launching a new effort to help young men and boys of color. covering the week pete williams of nbc news. ed o'keefe of "the washington post." and michael sheerer of "time" magazine. >> award-winning reporting and
analysis, covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill. corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> it's one of the most amazing things we build and it doesn't even fly. we build classrooms and exhibit halls, mentoring tomorrow's innovators, we preserve habitats and serving america's veterans. every day thousands of boeing volunteers help their community be the best they can be, building something better for all of us. >> whether it's discovering an aspirin a day can prevent heart attacks worldwide or regenerating new heart muscles, our goal is to develop treatment.
brigham and women's hospital. >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- prudential. addition funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to pbs stations through viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. we start tonight with an update on ukraine where an east-west divide is growing and uncertain government has formed. and obama administration officials suggest russia has troops on the ground. the president today issued his sternest warning yet. >> just before the world came together for the olympic games it would invite the con den nation of nations around the world. and indeed the united states will stand with the international community in affirming there will be cost for any military intervention in
ukraine. gwen: even before the president spoke, the u.n. was stepping up its criticism. >> there are enough tensions that it is important for everybody to be extremely careful not to inflame the situation and not to send the wrong messages. gwen: i spoke about that earlier today from the bloomberg news washington bureau. endira, welcome. en john kerry says beware of messages, what he' are -- what's he mean? >> that's trying to put on the record for the whole world to hear that the united states does not want russia to have a military intervention here. this has echos of the intervention by russia in georgia. the same kind of language preceeded that with russia talking about how it was in its national interest at stake. so the u.s. does not want to see
that happen neither does the e.u. gwen: this is about a conflict involving europe and russia. increasely it involves u.s. an russia. is that a correct reading? >> a lot of people have jumped on this as an example of what they're calling a new cold war. it all depends on the lens through which you're looking and we've seen some editorial pages in washington talk about that, a new cold war. the obama administration is very keen to get away from that notion as much as possible. why? because obama knows that he needs putin and russia's support on other key international issues like iran, like syria, like north korea. they don't want to burn all bridges. at the same time, they are, you know, trying to figure out ways to corporate. and that means that an i.m.f. bailout package would hopefully be paired with russian lone assistance as well and the u.s. $1 billion. ts own
as john kerry said this isn't "rocky iv." he's trying to make the point this is not a new cold war. gwen: are there dollar signs attached to this conflict? >> very much so. i mean, the ukrainian economy is in crisis. investors are pulling out. the government has said that it needs $35 billion in bailouts to keep its economy afloat. then later they said that's for two years. they need at least $15 billion for the first year from the i.m.f. the i.m.f. is doing some fact-finding and figure out what's possible but the i.m.f. has been burned twice already. since 2008, the two previous governments both did not keep up eir end of the austerity bargain. and the current one admitted hat it could be a very political kamikaze move. gwen: who carrys the weight in
this arguments? russia? the u.s.? e.u.? are we expecting another suiter? >> that's the $15 billion question, right? we're talking about a country that sits in a very key strategic place. on the border of russia on one side. on the border of nato on the other side. the whole thing that precipitated this is the government pulled out that was supposed to be in agreement with them last year that would have allowed them to seek membership of the e.u. and he decided to back out yanokovic and decided to ally himself with russia. a lot of people it's right there at the seam of europe and it's very keen which way it works. our key critical gas pipelines through which half of the gas that russia exports through europe goes through those pipelines through the ukraine. there are money issue, good
geo political -- issues. gwen: thank you for joining us tonight. >> thank you. >> when it comes to expanding rights for gays and lesbians, there was a big veto in arizona. a gay marriage ruling in texas and new guidance from the u.s. attorney general. in arizona january brewer killed a measure that would have allowed businesses to use religious belief as a defense against discrimination lawsuits. >> i sincerely belief that senate bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it pro ports to solve. i could divide arizona in ways you could not even imagine and no one would ever want. gwen: but even though this is gay right debate, the roots of the law has nothing to do with that piece. >> it stars two decades ago with two men who worked at drug rehab
center who were fired for smoking peyote at a native american surge service. they said it was ritual. so the laws shouldn't apply to them. but the u.s. supreme court says there's no religious exception. and that infuriated congress which responded bypassing something called the religious freedom restoration act which barred the government from in the phrase of the law substantially burdenening somebody's exercise of religion. arizona is one of many that has laws like that. so what was different about this arizona law is that it would have expanded the law to apply not just to individuals but to businesss that get sued by someone in a private lawsuit, someone that they refuse to serve and what got the sponsors of the bill concerned was a decision last year in neighboring new mexico when the supreme court there ruled against a be queer key
photographers who refused to photograph the ceremony of two women. and this is exactly at the heart of the challenge to the obamacare law that the supreme court will hear next month. >> gwen rattled off this week's different developments. you've got fights in state houses and in courthouses. what else is going on? >> a texas judge became the latest to strike down a ban on same sex marriage saying that it's -- there's no good reason to do that. gwen: how many states have done that? >> in terms of court action, six or seven. we have 17 states in which same sex marriage is allowed. we have a trial that starred this week in michigan over its ban. and just this week a kentucky judge made his ruling final while kentucky does not have to allow same sex marriages to be
performed, it has to be recognized marriages in other states. >> how is eric holder getting involved in these discussions? >> he gave a very interesting speech before the national of association of attorneys general. he thinks that any law that should be ions on it suspicious. now, he didn't tell the attorneys general you should do that too but that was sort of the message. gwen: but isn't it weird to have the nation's chief enforcement officers to advise other officers don't worry about that, just let it go? >> many of them thought so. many were critical of the speech afterwards. this is what he did when the administration had to decide whether to defend in court the defense in marriage act. there are lots of examples where u.s. an state attorneys general have declined to defend laws
that they think is unconstitution. >> does he have a lot of sway with attorneys generals? > to some extent his remarks was remarkin something that's already happened. states attorneys general have declined to defend the law. o so to some extent they are kind of on a roll. gwen: will this barrel straight to the supreme court? >> well, we'll see. so far most of these laws are striking the bans down. the main reason the supreme court would take a case if there's a split among the courts or circuits we'll have to see if that develops. gwen: john dingell spent six decades in congress. preceed him served two. but many say it's not fun anymore. >> the president should not have to tell the other vets fighting
that you cannot do ilts tests, he will do it by executive order. that is not the way the country is run. gwen: all told, the retirement of dingell and others so far add up to about 300 years of congressional experience. so this is a big shift or not, ed? >> it is and it continue as trend that's been going on for the past few year where is the older generations of lawmaker who are totally not accustom the saying forget it. the fact that you saw really the dean -- he rides around in a motorized scooter that says "the dean" on it basically said that it's obnoxious up there. considering the fact he came top the office in 1955. 12 days after rosa parks refused to give up her seat on that birminghammingham bus. and he was in office 12 years
before this show started. [laughter] >> and he made a really interesting comment to bloomberg news where he said the president he most admired was lyndon johnson and he considers newt gingrich a very close friend. most of his colleagues would turn their, you know, would find that very odd and frankly read about those guys in textbooks. >> it says something about the era of bipartisan that i guess he grew up in. what's the tally now. how many people with that kind of experience are heading -- >> he's one of 32 members in the senate so far saying i'm retiring. not running for a higher office but leaving entirely. that's a combined 660 years of experience between the house lawmakers and the senate. it's close to the 700 if you add the house experience that some of those senators have. >> and you're saying that most of those are people are worried about getting re-elected? >> no, in fact, many of them come from safe seats.
and those numbers are on par with 2012. what was it? 35 that year. we were three short of 2012. that wave was the signal that a lot of these older people are leaving. you're losing people, the brain drain. a lot of democratic committee chairman. carl levin of armed services, jay rockefeller, max baucus who is on his way to beijing and tom hard kinson johnson. and it creates a very interesting dichotomy of people who have been serving for 12 or 15 years are now being viewed as seniors. >> there are 45 senators currently serving in their first term. that's unprecedented. >> you've already got an institution that's got 12% of approval nationwide. when does it turn around? when can the optimism claim a victory and say that congress will become a better institution? >> yeah -- there is genuine
frustration i think especially many the senate about the fact that they're sitting around doing nothing. we're going to see some modest attempts of that in the next few weeks. they're going to try to move some small ball things related to child car, maybe some proposals on sentence reform. modest attempts to get -- >> if you believe in term limits or you believe in fresh blood and you believe in bringing in -- breaking out of the structures of washington, isn't this a good thing? >> yes, in fact, if you talk to other democrats, they say if filibuster totally doesn't make any sense. in a majority of the country wants it done and a minority of the senat can hold it up, it should be pushed away. the old bulls are saying, wait a second that violates hundreds of congressional history. gwen: what would john dingell say were his chief
accomplishments? >> certainly his work on clean -- what is it? the clean water act. working for medicare -- the health care reform, the biggest achievement. his father fought for that. he served through all those democratic presidents who tried. i think he would consider his biggest -- >> and now his wife debbie dingell is running for his seat. >> if she serves nine terms that ding ll be have hold that seat for 100 years. gwen: wow. the east room in the white house -- full of fill lan throw philanthropists. it's called my brother's keeper and it's his boldest effort yet to reach outside partisan lines and the bat. to address what he considers to be important. >> while there might not be much of an appetite for new initiatives, we all know we
can't wait. and so the good news is, folks in the private sector who know how important boosting the achievement of young men of color is to the country, they are ready to step up. >> is this approach reaching outside of congress, reaching outside of the problems in washington to stop things from happening, is this part of his new approach to life? >> it is. he knows he's now in his fifth year or sixth year. he knows this town is not working for reasons we've just discussed. and he decided late last year with his age that he's going to move forward on the agenda where he doesn't need congress and doesn't need new money. they talk about the pen and the phone is the way they're going to reach out to the country. the president has an enormous convening ability. you saw that here. the most important thing he said, i think, in that address was this issue of young men of color not having the same opportunity that other young people have is as important a
national issue with any issue i deal with. it's a big deal to have a president of the united states say that. and even if the money that he's talking about which is about $200 million over the next two years will be funned by industry and philanthropies. may have been spent anyway. it was being spent to help this community. the fact that he is elevating and that he as the first black president can speak to these families and these young men about his experience means that i think he will be able to push this some and we'll have a little bit of a legacy. >> and what's going comb done with the money? it's for what? >> there are a number of things that he i'd tied at this event. >> he's going to -- and these are all things actually that had already been happening in the philanthropic world. there's a big effort to get minority families to speak more with their children. there is real research that shows toddler and minority families, just don't hear as many words. three million fewer words than
young white children. that means they're at a huge disadvantage when they get to elementary school. there's another issue of literacy. this community is not reading as well going into fourth grade as young white people are reading. there's going to be a push there. there's an issue that the president has been working with the department of education with zero tolerance. there was a discipline effort that came much through the 1990's and has continued in recent years. research shows that this affects the community. the department of education has been edge couraging schools to revisit those policy. and there's a criminal justice reform element. there's an element of this community being channeled from suspensions in schools into the criminal justice system if you're a white suburban kid and you get quath a little bit of pot in your backpack in your school or private school, it's not clear that the comes will be called --
gwen: he said he spoke from experience. >> he is the first president that said he got high. >> a lot of people thought he would talk more about this. some surmised that he wasn't going to talk about it until he got re-elected because of the history. what took so long? and is there a sense that he's going to talk about this when he leaves office? >> that point is going to be right. this is one of the issues he takes with him when he leaves office in 2007 he gave a speech. he said if you elect me,ly bring a new dawn of justice. he will take on other issues and we've got the health care fight, the deficit battle. he had a very difficult re-election. just a month before, he gave an interview with black enterprise magazine he said, i'm not the president of black america. he didn't want that idea that he was favoring one particular group. i did an interview before that
election. and i found out that when he came down with his senior aids just week bfers he got re-elected, he had a yellow note pad. even if this wasn't an issue, he put criminal justice reform on there and he started pushing -- gwen: we've got to go. michael's more in story in "time magazine." >> we have to leave to give you a chance to support your local pbs station. but our conversation will continue online on the "washington week" web cast extra. it streams live at 8:30 and all ek long at pbs.org/washingtonweek. and that's where you'll find my take and why 1997 was such a big year for "washington week." we're accepting birthday wishes. we'll see you next week. good night.
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